An ORT ReformerIn 1939, a group of Jewish public figures, ORT activists and craftspeople gathered in the assembly hall of the organisation’s secondary trade school to mark the 70th birthday of Leon Bramson, a distinguished world public figure. At the event, A. Jodidio, Chairman of ORT Lithuania, spoke in detail about two features of Bramson’s character: first, about his “incomparable diligence” that the speaker knew at first hand from the time when L. Bramson arrived to organise the first efforts for establishing the house of ORT Kaunas and, secondly, “his extraordinary modesty when in 1935 the Chairman of World ORT did not allow the house to be named after him, despite meriting the honour as both a Kaunas resident and a person who contributed much of his time and efforts to the construction of the house.”Throughout his life Bramson was engaged in diverse social activities. However, the last decade of his life and work (from 1930) was devoted to organising and strengthening World ORT. Thanks to him the one-time Russian-centred ORT became a world organisation that embraced thirteen countries in 1939 at the time of Bramson’s 70th birthday.One interesting episode illustrates Bramson’s influence within World ORT. At an international ORT conference held in the inter-war period in Paris, Jews from the United States and South Africa could not agree who allocated more funds to World ORT (according to the number of Jews in each country). The representatives from Lithuania then intervened, pointing out that the Lithuanian Jews who gave the organisation its chairman from Kaunas, Dr Leon Bramson, contributed more.
1869, April 29, born in Kaunas.
1883 left Kaunas gymnasium, entered the Department of
Law at Moscow University.
1890 after graduation left for St Petersburg, worked as a
lawyer, engaged in active social activities.
1892 started work for the Jewish Education Society, headed
several schools of the society.
1906 elected to the first Russian Duma [a legislative
assembly in the late Russian Empire], as a Kaunas
province deputy; a fine public speaker, L. Bramson
defended Jewish interests. Alexander Kerensky, future
head of the provisional government after the February
Revolution, offered L. Bramson the post of minister in
the government, but he declined.
1917, March 22, the Russian provisional government
adopted a decree about the equal rights of Jews; one of
its authors was L. Bramson.
1917, 20-21 December, the Russian military tribunal tried
L. Bramson, for his political views. He was sentenced
to “social condemnation” and sent to southern Russia.
1920 immigrated to Berlin.
1921 in Berlin, L. Bramson helped organise the founding
conference of World ORT Union, where he was
elected Vice-Chairman of the (executive) Central
Council and member of the Board.
1933 transferred the ORT headquarters to Paris.
1941 left for Vichy (southern France); fell ill with
pneumonia in Marseilles.
1941, 2 March died; buried in Marseilles.
Leon Bramson, his wife Vera Bramson and sister Sofy Bramson-Finkelstein, Marienbad, 1926.Efir Bramson’s personal archive
Headstone of Leon and Vera Bramson at Marseilles cemetery.Esfir Bramson’s personal archive
Leon Bramson’s family members, Berlin, 1930. Esfir Bramson’s personal archive
Leon Bramson’s family, St Petersburg, before 1917.Esfir Bramson’s personal archive
Notification of Leon Bramson’s death.Esfir Bramson’s personal archive